• The announcement comes as WA pushes to gain work on Collins FCD.
    The announcement comes as WA pushes to gain work on Collins FCD. Defence

Teaming people with artificial intelligence in warfare strategies, addressing biological warfare and communication with autonomous underwater vehicles are some of the projects which will benefit from the Defence Science Centre’s inaugural defence research grants.

WA Premier Mark McGowan announced the inaugural research grants during his opening address at the Submarine Institute of Australia’s SubSTEC5 conference in Fremantle this week.

The Defence Science Centre grants aim to bring together universities, businesses and government to undertake research that will support defence and national security capability.

“The research grants will bring some of the leading defence industry stakeholders together in WA to find solutions or new ways to tackle defence and national security issues,” Premier McGowan said. “It’s part of a bigger program of works to benefit the industry through cross-industry innovation and strengthens our state’s defence capabilities.

“The first round of grants fund projects which will see WA universities collaborate with national and international universities, some of the world’s biggest defence industry companies and the Commonwealth’s DST Group.”

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated the uni’s grant recipients, adding that the projects put forward compelling cases for developing complex research into practical outcomes for Australia’s defence industry.

“These projects are both outstanding examples of Curtin University’s commitment to industry collaboration and making an impact through research that makes a real difference,” Professor Terry said.

“Underwater autonomous drones will have a large impact on Australian Defence operations and Professor Yue Rong’s research into undersea wireless communication will support enhanced capability for our Navy.

“Associate Professor Daniel Gucciardi’s research into optimising military team performance via fit-for-purpose reflection protocols tailored for the defence context will inform the future success of the military workforce.”

Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said the SubSTEC5 conference was timely as the Commonwealth would soon make a decision about whether to transfer all Collins class submarine maintenance to WA or remain at Osbourne in SA.

Premier McGowan continues to make the case to move Full Cycle Docking (FCD) of Collins class submarines to WA from SA. Mid Cycle Docking is currently conducted in the west.

Opponents of the plan to move FCD cite the difficulties in relocating skilled FCD workers from Adelaide to Perth given significant demand for those skills in other Adelaide-based programs, such as the Hunter class frigate build.

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